An Indo-German research team – Dr Mirjam Steglich, Mr Rabir Zreig, and Mr Mukul Pandey — from the Centre for Rural Development at Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany, visited MSSRF on September 22, 2022, to discuss sustainable agro-ecological practices and various projects under the Ecotechnology Programme Area in India.
Dr Rengalakshmi, Director – Ecotechnology, welcomed the team and explained how MSSRF has its foundation built on pro-poor, pro-woman, and pro-nature principles. She also presented a brief overview of the following projects to iterate how MSSRF uses engages with stakeholders and uses agro-ecological principles to achieve desired outcomes that benefit small farmers
1. Water Security and Climate Adaptation in Rural India (WASCA);
2. Enhancing Crop Diversity and Productivity of Small Farmers through Augmentation of Ground Water Resource; and
3. Farmer producer organisations.
The visitors appreciated work done under the WASCA project and requested for more information on the project partnerships, specifically on the integration of works under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) within the project plans. They showed keen interest on how MSSRF was able to overcome challenges both at the ground and government level, and were drawn to the data points and methods used.
Mr Nagarajan, Head – GIS & Remote Sensing at MSSRF, explained how spatial data was utilised in interpreting the area of interest under the CWRM Framework and efforts undertaken to train government officials to use the GIS tools for effective monitoring of the project and MGNEGRA works.
Dr Mirjam Steglich explained the objectives and focus of the team’s project: ‘Increasing Resilience to Climate Change through Adaptive Policies promoting Agroecology – A comparative Perspective at the Agriculture-Water Nexus in India and Germany’. Together, the visitors were impressed with how MSSRF was able to manage the complexities of socio-cultural and socio-economic dimensions within the agro-ecological intention of the WASCA project. They also expressed appreciation of the participatory research methods, also the inclusion of women farmers and local governance authorities in the processes.
The Indo-German team plans to visit other locations in India and interview more researchers from other NGOs over the next two months, and will later hold a feedback consultation to present their findings for validation.